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Gaming Design and Compexity

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  • Gaming Design and Compexity

    The following should NOT be seen as an argument about good vs better -- the issues are much more complex and not subject to such simplistic qualifications.

    I am intrigued by the differences between gaming titles and their enabling and constraining design characteristics. The difference between BF4 (and BF3/BC2 and CoD) and Planetside 2 are sufficient to merit extended analysis. In particular, the issues of agency (possible individual actions), collective actions, and intra-group coordination provides points of reference for measuring the relative complexity of games.

    I find that PS2 generates much greater complexity of command possibilities (strategic action), squad leading tactical, organizational, and communication possibilities. Obviously, it lacks graphical definition (HD quality, dynamic lighting, destructive environments) and has pretty crappy avatar rendering -- but these are irrelevant to issues of tactical, organizational, and communicative capabilities.

    It is also noteworthy that TGers play both games -- they are not mutually exclusive and neither are player's tastes incapable of accommodating multiple modes of play.

    What do you think about the relative level of complexity and possible range of actions between game titles?

  • #2
    Re: Gaming Design and Compexity

    I comment with the disclaimer of not having ever played BF4(or anything past 2142 really) and only playing PS2 very sporadically anymore (no PC :( ).

    PS2 and BF4 both offer the same broad style of FPS action, squad based gunplay with a level of arcadish-realism. The core significant difference obvious to all is the scale at which they operate: one is big, the other is massive. Further inspection reveals the other key difference; 'short isolated conflict with assured win conditions' versus 'amorphous conflict with broad win conditions'. Core gameplay, from what I can tell, is largely similar regardless of game setting or weaponry/equipment, certain areas differ greatly but by and large the gameplay core is the same.

    When trying to answer that question I keep coming back to the pros and cons of large amorphous battles in Planetside 2 as opposed to the large sligtly defined battles of Battlefield. When it comes to it, on paper PlanetSide is a true tactical and strategic sandbox where as Battlefield is pretty confined, even with the levelution gimmick.

    However, from actual experience PlanetSide is ultimately a numbers game, like any real war between equivalent powers. This isn't a bad thing, in the finest details even Battlefield is a numbers game (you are always fighting for more numbers in a specific area), but with the loose boundaries PS gives us it has created the Lowest Common Denominator scourge, the 'Zerg'. I'll be the first one to defend the Zerg, honestly, I see the Zerg as a natural occurrence in all games and even as a 'non-issue' as often times, what appears to be an unorganized mass is actually an organized mass as far as we can expect them to occur in our non-military virtual wars. However, the simple weight of the Zerg, organized AND un-organized, is often enough on its own, and ultimately results in a Sandbox that already has more than a few Sandcastles built. In my opinion PS2 is an example of too-much-freedom.

    The converse is BF4, where the narrow maps (by comparison) do a significant part in tightening the battles and creating a flowing, but noticable, sense of territorial gain and loss. Certain gimmicks, from my unplayed perspective, work around that (i.e. squad spawning on anyone), but by and large the restricted nature of the battles feed into a psychological sense of 'knowledge'. If you lose, you know why you lost, you know what you did wrong or at least what they did right. In PS2 you often times lose because of sheer numbers and the unexpected.

    I wax more but I've got to turn in some papers.


    • #3
      Re: Gaming Design and Compexity

      Let me add just a quick note.

      When considering game design, you have to look at the marketing. PS2 is a 'Free to Play' where as BF4 is paid. This plays a big role in game design as the both have different audiences. One caters to more casual player while the other doesn't have to cater to the lowest possible denominator in gaming.

      Also you have to look at how games have changed over time as our culture has changed. We now have less average attention span in America that a gold fish. (Or so I habve been told) Where as years ago, this was not the case. And one just has to look at how games are changing over the years. (Just don't look at COD as it doesn't fit this example) PS1 didn't have Redeployment at the same level and was slower over all. But it also had a price tag and as a PC game, which back then it ment not so many 12 year olds.

      If you look at BF2 vs BF4 you will find two very different speeds and styles showing the change of time. So at lest for game design, you have to look at the audience to understand some of the aspects.

      As far a complexity goes, I would say it has to do with the personality of the player. If you look at the learning curve of games it would generally have to do with complexity unless it is hard because of controls. Somethig that I tend to compare learning curve to is the higher risk = higher reward.

      If you think of the risk as spending mony on a game but not liking it because you couldn't get trought the learning curve and the reward as the fun you are able to have knowing what you have mastered, then it might make sense. But if not let me try to explain it in game.

      Look at Eve for example. I would say it is the most complex game that I know of. If you look up Eve learning curve, you will see a comparison between it and other MMO's. On that picture you will see a cliff with lots of dead people representing the learning curve. And I would say it is accurate. But once you make it over that hill, you expose yourself to the most Intense and Beautiful gaming experience one can have. (Or at lest that is my opinion) so high risk, high reward. That is how I tend to think of it.

      Just had to throw my thoughs in there to make sure you where confused. ;) keep up the good stuff.
      "When attacking a stronger opponent, Attack swiftly and with full force at their weakest point— take them out before the can react, or Fall back and engage in guerrilla actions,” Spartan 117.




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